The quick and simple answer concerning what minus means in hockey betting odds and line is that it most often indicates which team is the favorite in a bet known as a moneyline. The teams the bookmakers have established as the favorites will have a minus sign listed next to them on the betting line. Conversely, a plus sign will appear next to the underdog.
A moneyline is one of the most common forms of betting on hockey games and the odds are listed in terms of money with a plus or minus sign. Using a $100 wager as an example, the odds for the favorite will often appear as -110. This means you will have to make a wager of $110 to win $100. On the flip side, the underdog would appear as +110. In this case, you would win $110 on a $100 bet if the underdog "upsets'' the favorite.
Occasionally you might come across a line where a -110 appears next to both teams. This means the bookmakers do not consider either the team the favorite, which is often referred to as a pick'em or pick game. When both teams are listed at -110 you must bet $110 team to win $100 on either team.
The reason the line appears as -110 as opposed to simply 100 is so the sportsbooks bookmakers can make a profit. This is known in world of gambling as the juice or the vig, which is the price charged by a sportsbook for making a bet.
The goal for a sportsbook is to draw an equal amount of bets on both the favorite and the underdog. As a result, the sportsbooks will often adjust the line if there's more betting on one team over the other. They adjust the line to attract more betting interest on the other team. Assuming they reach their goal of an equal amount of bets on both teams, the sportsbooks receive an automatic 10 percent profit and it makes no difference to bookmakers which team actually wins the game.
The minus sign in hockey can also refer to the ways the teams are listed on a puck line. With a puck line bet you are wagering on what the goal differential spread will be between the two teams in the final score. The puck line in hockey nearly always appears as a minus (-)1.5 for the favorite and plus (+) 1.5 on the underdog. In this scenario, the favorite must win by two or more goals, while for the underdog to produce a winning bet it must lose by no more than one goal. A bet on the underdog will also produce a payout if it wins the game.